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Jon Lech Johansen
Born November 18, 1983 (1983-11-18) (age 26)
Harstad, Norway
Known for DeCSS

Jon Lech Johansen (born November 18, 1983 in Harstad, Norway), also known as DVD Jon, is a Norwegian programmer famous for his work on reverse engineering data formats. He is most famous for his involvement in the release of the DeCSS software, which decodes the content-scrambling system used for DVD licensing enforcement. Jon is a self-trained software engineer, who quit high school at the first year to spend more time with the DeCSS case. He moved to the United States and worked as a software engineer in October 2005 until November 2006. He then moved to Norway but moved back to the United States in June 2007.[1]

Johansen is featured in the documentary film info wars.


Other projects



In 2001, Johansen released OpenJaz, a reverse-engineered set of drivers for Linux, BeOS and Windows 2000 that allow operation of the JazPiper MP3 digital audio player without its proprietary drivers.


In November 2003, Johansen released QTFairUse, an open source program which dumps the raw output of a QuickTime Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) stream to a file, which could bypass the digital rights management (DRM) software used to encrypt content of music from media such as those distributed by the iTunes Music Store, Apple Computer's online music store. Although these resulting raw AAC files were unplayable by most media players at the time of release, they represent the first attempt at circumventing Apple's encryption.


Johansen had by now become a VideoLAN developer, and had reverse engineered FairPlay and written VLC's FairPlay support.[2] It has been available in VideoLAN CVS since January 2004, but the first release to include FairPlay support is VLC 0.7.1 (released March 2, 2004).

On April 25, 2004 Johansen released yet another program: DeDRMS. Written in C#, this 230 line program also removes copy protection.

On July 7, 2004 he released FairKeys, a program that can be used to retrieve the keys needed by DeDRMS from the iTunes Music Store servers themselves.

On August 12, 2004 Johansen announced on his website that he defeated Apple's AirPort Express's encryption which lets users stream Apple Lossless files to their AirPort Expresses.

On November 25, 2004 he released a proof of concept program that allows Linux users (via VLC) to play video encoded with Microsoft's proprietary WMV9 codec, by porting the reference version of the software. This was a significant development as Microsoft had been lobbying to have their codec used with the next DVD standard.


DVD Jon in Oslo. 2005.

On March 18, 2005, Travis Watkins and Cody Brocious, along with Johansen, wrote PyMusique, a Python based program which allows the download of purchased files from the iTunes Music Store without DRM encryption. This was possible because Apple Computer's iTunes software adds the DRM to the music file after the music file is downloaded. On March 22, Apple released a patch for the iTunes Music Store blocking the use of his PyMusique program. The same day, an update to PyMusique was released, circumventing the new patch.

On June 26, 2005, Johansen created a modification of Google's new in-browser video player (which was based on the open source VLC media player) in less than 24 hours after its release, to allow the user to play videos that are not hosted on Google’s servers. The significance of the modification was exaggerated by the online media.[3]

In late summer, Håkon Wium Lie, the Norwegian CTO of Opera Software, co-creator of Cascading Style Sheets and long-time supporter of open source, named Jon Lech Johansen a "hero" in a net meeting arranged by one of Norway's biggest newspapers.[4]

In September 2, 2005, The Register published news that DVD Jon had defeated encryption in Microsoft's Windows Media Player by reverse engineering a proprietary algorithm that was ostensibly used to protect Windows Media Station NSC files from engineers sniffing for the files' source IP address, port or stream format. Johansen had also made a decoder available.[5]

In September 2005, Johansen announced the release of SharpMusique 1.0, an alternative to the default iTunes program. The program allows Linux and Windows users to buy songs from the iTunes music store without copy protection.

In 2005, Johansen worked for MP3tunes in San Diego as a software engineer. His first project was a new digital music product, code-named Oboe.[6]

In November 2005, a Slashdot story notes[7] that Sony-BMGs XCP DRM software includes code and comments (such as "copyright (c) Apple Computer, Inc. All Rights Reserved."[8]) illegally copied from an iTunes DRM circumvention program by Jon Lech Johansen. A popular claim was that, using the criteria that RIAA uses in its copyright lawsuits, Johansen could sue for billions of dollars in damages.[7]


On January 8, 2006, Johansen revealed his intent to defeat the encryption of Next-Generation DVD encryption, AACS.[9]

On June 7, 2006, Johansen announced that he had moved to San Francisco and was joining DoubleTwist Ventures.[10]

In October 2006, Johansen and DoubleTwist Ventures announced they had reverse engineered Apple Computer's DRM for iTunes, called FairPlay. Rather than allow people to strip the DRM, DoubleTwist would license the ability to apply FairPlay to media companies who wanted their music and videos to play on the iPod, without having to sign a distribution contract with Apple.[11]


In July 2007, Jon managed to allow the iPhone to work as an iPod with WiFi, without AT&T activation.[12]


On February 2, 2008, Johansen launched doubleTwist, which allows customers to route around digital rights management in music files and convert files between various formats. The software converts digital music of any bitrate encoded with any popular codec into a format that can be played on any device.[13]


In June, he managed to get an ad for his application doubleTwist on the wall of the San Francisco Apple Store, just days before the 2009 WWDC event.[14] On June 9, it was reported that the ad was removed by BART for allegedly "being too opaque" (the background was blueish) and not allowing enough light into the adjoining transit station.[15] The ad was later redesigned and redeployed with a transparent background.[16]


  • January 2000 - Karoline award given to high-school students with excellent grades and noteworthy achievements in sports, arts or culture.
  • April 2002 - EFF Pioneer Award


  1. ^ Johansen, Jon Lech (2004). "About". Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  2. ^ Doctorow, Cory (2004-03-26). "DVD Jon on VLC and Apple's iTunes singles". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  3. ^ Johansen, Jon Lech (2005-06-28). "Google Video Viewer". Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  4. ^ Eide, Lars Eirik (2005-05-10). "DVD-Jon er en helt" (in Norwegian). Dagbladet. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  5. ^ Johansen, Jon Lech (2005-08-31). "Reversing NSC". Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  6. ^ McMillan, Robert (2005-10-21). "DVD Jon now working for Linspire's Michael Robertson". Computerworld. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  7. ^ a b "DVD Jon's Code In Sony Rootkit?". Slashdot. 2005-11-17. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  8. ^ "Wow. Just WOW.". Slashdot. 2005-11-17. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  9. ^ Johansen, Jon Lech (2006-01-08). "". Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  10. ^ Johansen, Jon Lech (2006-06-07). "Moved to San Francisco". Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  11. ^ Gannes, Liz (2006-10-02). "DVD Jon Fairplays Apple". GigaOM. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  12. ^ Johansen, Jon Lech (2007-07-03). "iPhone Independence Day". Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  13. ^ Hacker breaks link between iTunes and the iPod, Times Online
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^


  • Reuters news report (February 28, 2003) – [1], [2] – Appeals court agrees to hear the DeCSS case

External links


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